Side With Cincinnati's Defensive Prowess vs. Cardinals for NFL Picks

Mark Lathrop

Thursday, November 19, 2015 1:13 PM UTC

Thursday, Nov. 19, 2015 1:13 PM UTC

Lost in Cincinnati's Week 10 dud was a defensive gem, which shows they are more than capable of keeping things close in the Arizona desert & his NFL pick reiterates that sentiment. 

In the Week 11 primetime matchup this week we have the 8-1 Cincinnati Bengals traveling to meet the 7-2 Arizona Cardinals. Cincinnati is coming off of their first loss straight up and against the spread on Monday Night Football against the Houston Texans, losing 10-6 in a snoozefest. This couldn’t be a more opposite situation from Arizona, who beat Seattle in a pivotal game on Sunday night in Week 10 outright as a 3-point underdog. Arizona now finds itself with a 3 game lead in the NFC West going into Week 11.

The Bengals might have lost in Week 10 to the Texans, but their defense showed that they hadn’t lost a step by allowing only ten points – the last touchdown on a circus catch by DeAndre Hopkins. Cincinnati leads the league in points allowed per game at 16.9, with a big part of that being able to pressure the opposing quarterback. They have 26 sacks this year through nine games, which would make them tied for 6th in the NFL.

This pressure should come into play against Arizona, as their offensive line took a step back in the game against Seattle, and rumor has it that the Bengals have a defensive line that compares. Their play thus far had been a big reason that Carson Palmer has stayed upright and injury free this season. Arizona came into Week 10 having allowed only 11 sacks, but in the game against Seattle they allowed three sacks, and additional 13 hits, two quarterback fumbles, and had Carson Palmer under pressure in 32 of 51 of his drop backs to pass. Of special concern was the line play after Mike Iupati left the game with a neck injury, as he is questionable for the game against Cincinnati. Either way, the Seahawks put a lot of film in the can on how to cause the Arizona line problems.

Arizona is dealing with other injuries on offense other than the offensive line as well, with their receiving corps hit especially hard. Starting wide receivers John Brown and Michael Floyd were completely out of practice on Wednesday with hamstring injuries, and veteran Larry Fitzgerald was limited in practice with an ankle injury. The statuses of this particular position group needs to be monitored though out the week.

Good quarterback play by Andy Dalton, the ‘Red Ryder’ has been a big reason for Cincinnati’s success this year. In his previous four seasons, the best QBR that Dalton has posted is 88.8. Through nine games, and including last week’s 61.0 no show, Dalton has posted a QBR of 104.6. His yards per attempt is almost a full yard more than his previous best at 8.2, and his 18/5 TD/INT ratio is two times better than his previous mark. His home QBR of 105.3 and road QBR of 103.9 speaks well for his chances against a tough Arizona secondary.

If Dalton’s start is impressive, Carson Palmer’s start is even more so. His best season long QBR was 101.1 before this year – and that was in 2005. Now in his eleventh season, Palmer’s QBR of 108.0 is particularly incredible, and the best by far in ten years. He is only behind Tom Brady with 23 passing touchdowns in the league.

What we have here is two pretty balanced teams with two quarterbacks playing at a top level. The current spread has Arizona listed as a 5-point favorite at home at Bovada. This line opened at 3 favoring Arizona initially at 5Dimes, but quickly rose as the public piled on the home team. Hard not to see the logic in that with the Bengals laying an egg on Monday Night Football. But I’d like to take advantage of this line in what should be a toss-up game won by a field goal or less, so I’ll be taking Cincinnati +5 as one of my Week 11 NFL picks.

NFL Pick: Cincinnati Bengals +5 (-106) at Pinnacle

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